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Ear to the Ground

‘Death With Dignity’ for the Public Option?

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Posted on Sep 2, 2009

The White House is about to relaunch its health reform campaign and some, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, are hopeful that the president will “more aggressively fight for a strong health reform bill with a strong public option.” Behind the scenes, however, his staff may be looking for the best way to kill it.

George Stephanopoulos outlines five questions the White House must answer in order to take charge of the health care debate. Chief among them: “What is ‘death with dignity’ for the public option? Is it better for the president to sacrifice it himself? Or convince Democratic leaders behind closed doors to come to him? Some will argue for taking the public option issue to the floor, passing it through the House and sacrificing it in conference - but once you’ve gone that far, it may be impossible for House Democrats to back down. So, giving it up on the front end in some fashion is likely the preferred option.” (h/t: Political Wire)

Inner-circle Democrats like Stephanopoulos and the president’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, shouldn’t be trusted when they speak about the public option. In cold political calculus, it’s a loser. But a president with vision might recognize that this is the moment for health care reform and that a plan that actually accomplishes something is worth fighting for.

Without a public option, the schemes lawmakers are cobbling together may hurt more than help. Who wants to be forced to buy a bad insurance policy, and how on Earth does that qualify as reform?

Promising the sky and delivering nothing—or worse, a phony plan that angers voters without assisting them—would sink the Democratic Party in 2010 as surely as it did in 1994. The Democrats might hold on to a slim majority, but of what use?

For better or worse, the Democrats have tied their fate to health care reform. Just getting a win isn’t going to save them. The plan has got to work. They’ve got to be able to point to something real and say, “We did that, now vote for us.”

The benefits of a public option wouldn’t kick in before the next election. It alone would not save lawmakers who were in trouble. But if it works, if it’s as bold and effective and cherished as Medicare, then maybe voters will feel as passionately about the public option as the people who demand, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”  —PS

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, September 3, 2009 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment

Life with Purpose for the Public Option.

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no mans land's avatar

By no mans land, September 3, 2009 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

The sad fact is that insurance seems to be the only solution we can come up with when costs outrun buying capacity. Let’s do a quick list of all of the different forms of insurance we see manifesting as requirements in our lives (and feel free to add the ones I miss to this list):

health, life, event, dental, vision, deposit, crop, wage, landlord, travel, rental car, end-of-life-care, auto collision, auto repair, auto liability, (don’t forget “other drivers!”), home, mortagage, renter’s, pet, investment, and flood. Better add terrorism to that list as well.

Kind of makes you wonder what lies in store for us when the price of food goes up, doesn’t it?

Nor can we ignore all the added costs of product “warranties” we are now expected to purchase in case we’re sold a hunk of junk. So if I buy TV at Best Buy, I have to purchase the warranty (faulty product insurance) to get the company to back their own product for a reasonable amount of time.

The truth is that insurance is nothing more than a legal ponze scheme. It can pay out only if everyone doesn’t need to collect at the same time.  Do you suppose any of these folks who think universal private insurance is the answer have considered what would happen if a major pandemic swept the population?

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, September 3, 2009 at 3:39 am Link to this comment

Honestly, I would suggest the Dems just scrap this farce and offer a single payer plan for an up-down vote.  Obama could start firm on this and, if it fails, point to the conservative democrats as the problem.  He should paint those guys into a corner as closet Repubs.  If he stays with this weak public option, it will eventually sink the Democratic party.  He might get re-elected but that will be their end.  They need to find a backbone or they, like the Repubs, will become irrelevant.  I’ve already given up on him and his worthless party.  And the Repubs are rapidly heading for the scrap heap of history.  If a truly progressive party is formed, they will instantly have a major constituency to support them.  They may not get enough to make a majority but they can be an effective counterbalance to what we currently have which is nothing.

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By Db63, September 3, 2009 at 12:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems more and more like the democrats and republicans alike are too willing to
sacrifice and demagogue progressives for demanding real change. At this point I
wish that instead of stamping our little feet and settling for the public option in
2013. We should be willing to do a big FU and demand a public option by 2010 or
a single payer option period. Of course this would only work if progressives were
willing and able to actually organize beyond the keyboard. Btw I am not a liberal, I
am a progressive! as in I believe in progress not the same old status quo which
throughout history only served the few at the top.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, September 2, 2009 at 10:05 pm Link to this comment

Without a public option, the insurance companies have won. Sure they’ll throw the government a few bones, like not cancelling insurance for pre existing conditions. But they will reap a wind fall profit, with 50 million new insureds. So they can afford it.

There already working on ways to get around the proposed reforms, so what do you bet reform comes out in their favor.

Why do they fear a public option?  Believe it they don’t fear anything or any one else more than that.

Why do they fear a public option so much?

It’s time for a third party, let the Republican Party and the Democratic party merge, their well on on the way now.

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By xypher, September 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment

Daily, I am more and more disappointed in Obama. I realize his hands are tied in many areas since our system needs an major overhaul but, it would be nice to see him at least fight for what he campaigned on. The Dems just roll over and cave in constantly.

The only upside is we do not have President McCain and thus President Palin.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, September 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

I suspect this thread is more obfuscation by the radical Right.

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By Rodger Lemonde, September 2, 2009 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Death by insurance company is not dignified.
The Republican party is dead without dignity already so
don’t bother with them at all. Expletives reluctantly

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By Fitz, September 2, 2009 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, I supported Obama. I donated to his campaign and argued his merits to friends and family alike, even to the demise of constructive dialogue. In the end, though, I did not vote for him. On the morning of election day, I took my own advice and decided not to allow my emotions to dictate my vote the way they had for so many supporters of GWB. I poured through each candidate’s position on the individual issues and decided I could not vote for him. Amid the euphoria of electing the nation’s first black president, I admit that I felt I had in some way betrayed that magical moment. I no longer feel that way, though. Today, my vote is vindicated.

The Dems are no longer progressive. They are the Republican Party of 30 years ago. Its time for a real progressive party and the only viable option for an honest progressive is the Green Party.

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By Big Jess, September 2, 2009 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t many of these “reform” bills - esp. those in the Senate—written so they kick-in in 2013, AFTER the 2012 re-election campaign? If I’m right, isn’t that just a really wonderful plan to insulate gutless, chicken-shit, sell-out Obama from voter rage and a primary challenger in 2012?

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By ladybug, September 2, 2009 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Don’t even bother running for re election. BO better step up to the plate pretty soon. Apathy is what will undermine this administration.

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By P. T., September 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

If eliminating the public option is coupled with a requirement to buy private insurance, progressives need to fight vigorously to kill the whole congressional bill.  It is better to let the current system collapse than to force people to buy private insurance they cannot afford.  Such a bill would amount to an insurance corporation bailout for insurers that are losing customers.

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LostHills's avatar

By LostHills, September 2, 2009 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

“Who wants to be forced to buy a bad insurance policy,” indeed…
Good luck getting reelected, sir.

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By NYCartist, September 2, 2009 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

Headline “Death with dignity” suggests one needs to
look at Not Dead Yet, on that topic.

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